Friday, February 22, 2013

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker). Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.
 

More Prosperity, Better Performance, and True Independence
 
This week, I delivered the 2013 Budget Address in the State Capitol. By investing in creating jobs, developing the workforce, transforming education, reforming government, and investing in infrastructure, we will be able to continue to move Wisconsin forward. You can watch a video of the address at www.walker.wi.gov.

I am proud to announce a budget which will reduce individual income taxes by $343 million over the next two years. Middle class families will see the biggest tax relief, but this is just a down payment for future tax cuts. I want to cut taxes over and over and over again until we are leading the country in economic recovery.

My budget has an intense focus on creating jobs and developing our workforce. Studies show the majority of net new jobs come from businesses less than five years old, and the most limiting factor in developing these opportunities is the availability of new capital. By investing $25 million in fiscal year 2013-14, we show we are serious about growing the economy by ensuring startups have access to capital. Wisconsin has a good supply of new invention and potential commercial innovations. Wisconsin holds 2.11 percent of the nation's patent filings, 12th in the nation, and has 2.15 percent of the nation's academic research spending, 13th in the nation. However, Wisconsin only has 0.36 percent of the nation's venture capital investments. Continued inaction increasingly puts Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage. These funds will make sure that small businesses in our state can thrive.

Beyond this effort, my budget proposal provides almost a $100 million investment of new state funds, with a total investment of $132 million in workforce development aimed at equipping workers with the skills they need to find jobs in the modern workforce. Specifically, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) will receive $5 million in general aid and flexibility over $22 million in existing worker training-related funds. This investment, and others in our University of Wisconsin System and traditional K-12 education, is designed to ensure that our citizens have the skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The budget also transforms education. Overall, I put $475.6 million in new state funds into our schools and higher education. And, for the first time, a significant portion of that funding is based on performance. Every child, regardless of their zip code, deserves access to a great education.

Schools with grades of “significantly exceeds expectations” or “exceeds expectations” will be awarded $24 million; and $30 million will be awarded to schools that improve report card scores by at least three points (out of 100 total) over the prior year. Schools that receive the award can use it to fund one-time items such as teacher bonuses, purchases of new technology, or facility upgrades.

In addition, $10 million will be available as competitive grant funding for school districts that present innovative plans to turn around failing schools. Support for these districts recognizes the unique challenges faced by schools and provides opportunity and support for improvement.

As part of transforming education, the budget will include initiatives to expand school choice so parents and students have legitimate alternatives to underperforming schools. The budget will open the choice program to school districts with at least two underperforming schools (those receiving school report card grades of "fails to meet expectations" or "meets few expectations"), at least 4,000 students, and at least 20 students intending to participate in the program. This expansion will be capped at 500 students statewide for fiscal year 2014 and 1,000 students statewide for fiscal year 2015. Eligibility requirements for students would be similar to current choice program eligibility requirements.

Wisconsin’s infrastructure will also receive a $6.4 billion investment with the proposed budget. The plan will prioritize existing revenue streams, replace the raids of the past with state taxpayer funds, and make sensible operational reforms so Wisconsin can continue to maintain and develop existing infrastructure projects. This transportation plan contains no scheduled delays for any major highway projects.

Our investments are focused on improving performance in Wisconsin. Reforming government is naturally a part of this budget because government should provide a hand up but not a permanent hand out. I have proposed bold entitlement reform, including requiring worker training for food stamp eligibility and increasing required work searches for unemployment insurance eligibility.

Medicaid reform will reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the state by nearly 50 percent or 224,580 individuals. The number of individuals dependent on government-run health care will also be reduced. My budget proposal covers people living in poverty through Medicaid and allows individuals above that level to access affordable health insurance coverage through the federal health insurance exchange or the private insurance market.

This budget is focused on providing more prosperity, better performance, and true independence for all Wisconsinites. Our budget puts in place reforms and performance measures to ensure that future generations have access to even more freedom and more prosperity for years to come.



It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.
Sincerely,

Governor Scott Walker

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